Never mind Howard and Rudd bickering about our relationship with the US, Washington has spelled out where we really stand: Australia is a security risk that can’t be trusted.

We’ve been put in our place in the backwash of the dubious decision to sign up for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Yes, it is going to be late, cost a lot more and still be a second-best plane (at best) but, no, we won’t sell you the superior F-22 Raptor, as Cameron Stewart reports in the Oz:

Although the US has never exported the F-22, Labor and some defence experts believed the US might relax its restrictions with a close ally such as Australia.

Dr Nelson discussed the range of warplane options with senior Bush administration officials during the annual Ausmin defence talks in Washington in December.

But in a letter to Dr Nelson last month, (US deputy defence secretary) Mr England clarified US policy once and for all.

“Regarding the F-22, our current position is that the airplane will not be made available to foreign military sales,” Mr England wrote.

Basically, we might be useful bitches from time to time, but the pimp doesn’t trust us with his ride.

We’re even having trouble getting F-35s with the same degree of stealth technology as the US model. Nice to know they want to retain the ability of USAF F-35s to shoot down RAAF F-35s. Stewart again:

In March last year, Australia threatened to pull put of the F-35 deal if the Australian version of the plane did not have the same sophisticated stealth technology as the US F-35s.

But in meetings in June between Dr Nelson and then US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Dr Nelson said he was “confident that all of our requirements will be met on the (F-35) JSF – the technology and data transfer”.

Note that Brendan is confident, but not certain and has nothing in writing from an ex-defence secretary. Would you trust the US government? It doesn’t trust us.

Peter Fray

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